Today, the company released its latest transparency report, which aims to help consumers better understand tweet removal requests and copyright notices as well as government information requests. With each report, the number of government requests continues to rise, and the US government continues to make more requests than any other government. This is the drawback of using social networks and other online services. The information you share can come back to haunt you.
In the latest report, which covers the first six months of 2016, Twitter received 2.1 percent more government requests than during the last study period–and this affected 8 percent more accounts. For the first time, the company also disclosed which law enforcement agencies make the highest volumes of requests for account information. According to Twitter, the top requesters were the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, and the New York County District Attorney’s Office.
All the big name online services now release these kinds of reports in an effort to keep government requests in check–and keep on the good side of public opinion. This includes Google, Facebook and Microsoft. The one thing these organizations are not allowed to disclose are national security requests. But earlier this year, Reddit did so in an indirect way, implying that it received at least one national security request in 2015 by not including a section from its 2014 report that said it had received no such requests.
Twitter hasn’t gone that far. But in 2014, Twitter filed a suit against the US government for barring it from disclosing the exact number of national security letters and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”) court orders it received. The company says this lawsuit is proceeding, and it expects to begin discovery in the next few months.